#1: Ten Ways to Torment Meddling Heroes without Ending Their Pathetic Lives

Old Geezer

New member
Banned
#2
Crom and Mitra. What a collection of good and really terrible advice.


"Just keep in mind that you demand back stories for a reason and any sign of affection a character has towards a non player character can be a point of weakness for a villain to exploit."

And when you do this, don't be surprised when next game, all your characters are homeless orphan wanderers with no ties to anything.

I mean, shit on toast. That has been a recurring theme since I started reading RPGnet several years ago -- "if you use player's character backgrounds to fuck them over, don't be surprised when they create characters without backgrounds." Some discussion on how to avoid this might have been useful, rather than "Make your character create backgrounds and then make them regret it".

"Betrayal is an old theme for the vilest of things to do to another person. "

Right. And if 100 orcs in a 10 x 10 foot room is "Fantasy Role Playing Cliche #1", then "NPC Betrays PC" is "Fantasy Role Playing Cliche #2".

This idea was stale as early as 1976 or 1977. When PCs, in character, are openly making bets on when and how this NPC will betray them, you know you've taken a wrong turn.

Some of the other ideas in the article would be worth expanding on, but any GM who uses "Hurt the PCs with their background" or "betrayal" should be forced to clean Jabba the Hutt's toilet.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
#3
I have to agree with OG on these; using PCs connections to other people (whether allies or people from backstrory) simply trains players not to let those occur more than they absolutely must. Both can be used occasionally (and some systems recognize the price of having connections to others in leverage by rewarding points from disadvantages for them in one way or another) but unless you have players who are very tolerant of this (or masochistic) any sort of regular use of that outside of that context is liable to produce unintended and undesirable consequences.
 

C.W.Richeson

RPG Reviewer
RPGnet Member
#4
I think there are ways to implement all of those suggestions that are fun and not fun. A lot of it comes from what interests the player. With family, for example, if the player makes his family out to be of particular interest then the player may very well want some villainous drama to take place. On the other hand, constantly endangering a character's parents when the player has no interest in it probably won't result in a lot of fun.

As long as the GM asks a few questions about this sort of stuff at the campaign generation step then I think it would be hard to go wrong.
 

Old Geezer

New member
Banned
#5
I think there are ways to implement all of those suggestions that are fun and not fun. A lot of it comes from what interests the player. With family, for example, if the player makes his family out to be of particular interest then the player may very well want some villainous drama to take place. On the other hand, constantly endangering a character's parents when the player has no interest in it probably won't result in a lot of fun.

As long as the GM asks a few questions about this sort of stuff at the campaign generation step then I think it would be hard to go wrong.

I agree -- that's why I mentioned "discussion on how to avoid this". If you read the column exactly as written, it says fairly explicitly "Require back stories and exploit them".
 

Ace

New member
Banned
#6
This article is a grip of advice on how to disempower the players and rapidly ruin a campaign.

Unless someone explicitly want you to (FREX they take a dependent disadvantage or the like) trying these cheap tricks will just give you detached sociopathic PC's or worse no players.

Tread very lightly while using these ideas.
 

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
#7
I'd point out the suggestions on robbing and disabling PCs as well - there are plenty of players who'd rather have their character die than lose a major facet but survive.

"How to use these things without pissing of your players" could be a very useful follow-up article.
 

Tark

Da ork dats muckin about.
#8
Keep in mind these are merely ideas. You can expand on each in a number of different ways and you should carefully consider each one before using it. These ideas are meant to be used to torment player characters and give them motivation to act against the villain. Never should they be used just to give players a hard time and never should they be used to punish players for acting their character. And remember a good villain always saves his best assassins for last.

Now that that's out of the way please keep in mind these things are meant to be cruel and painful. As a means to drive the characters into a frenzy over the villain if the palyer associates all the bad things happening to his character with the GM then he's playing the "Players VS. GM" game. Which, admittedly, can be equally the fault of the GM as the player.

But, the reason their wasn't a lot going into "how not to piss off your players" because that would be a lot like a "How To GM" article. It's simply not wholly relevant to the subject matter and would take up a lot more space then a single article could cover. Not to mention my attempt at being universal. What's accepted in DnD won't be accepted in Dark Heresy, or Vampire, or Exalted, or some implementations of HERO one way to implement them doesn't work for all it's entirely up to the GM to make these work. Finally, I assume, and thankfully I'm correct judging by the response, that most people who read this are mature enough how to moderate thigns so they don't have angry players walking out the door. In the end these ideas are meant to generate challenges and conflicts adn more importantly conviction towards the villain while avoiding the waves and waves of attack drones that can be inevitably be more boring and more destructive then any rage.


But anyway for my own part this article was merely stretching my legs. The next two might be far more useful and little better edited.
 

Old Geezer

New member
Banned
#9
But anyway for my own part this article was merely stretching my legs. The next two might be far more useful and little better edited.
Totally serious question -- have you been reading RPGnet long? The reason I ask is because certain themes come up as likely to not work well. The "if you use players' backgrounds against them don't be surprised if their next characters are loner orphans" is a very common theme.

I like your basic idea, mind you; I think, however, you really need to include a discussion of how not to misuse these tools up-front.

I particularly like the one about depriving the PCs of basic necessities such as food and water.
 

Dosoga

Retired User
#10
I think there are ways to implement all of those suggestions that are fun and not fun. A lot of it comes from what interests the player. With family, for example, if the player makes his family out to be of particular interest then the player may very well want some villainous drama to take place. On the other hand, constantly endangering a character's parents when the player has no interest in it probably won't result in a lot of fun.

As long as the GM asks a few questions about this sort of stuff at the campaign generation step then I think it would be hard to go wrong.
I fully agree. Overall, I think these were all good suggestions as possible ways to make a villain appear, well, more villainous, without employing lethal force directly against the PC. Some of the other commenters have pointed out that some of the tips are hazardous, but as C.W. points out, as long as there is some degree of understanding of what players consider worthy challenges VS GM abuse, then many of these ideas are worth considering. The idea is not to be repetitive, predictable or too heavy ended, again depending on the genre, system and players' idea of a good game & story.

As others have mentioned, a discussion of potential backlash for each suggestion could have been useful. As well, a brief discussion on justifying why a villain isn't sending his best assassins would have been a great intro to the article (although it has been discussed before). To me, villains have to be credible. And these non-lethal attacks on the party (while some are indeed cliches) are a very good summary of ways to go beyond the endless series of minions used by many new GMs.

Good luck with your future articles!
 
Top Bottom